The Daily Valet. - 3/18/24, Monday

Monday, March 18th Edition
Cory Ohlendorf  
By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor
I hope you had a relaxing weekend and are ready for a productive week.

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Today’s Big Story

A Big Real Estate Change


A recent realtors’ settlement could dramatically change the cost of American housing sales


Buying a house will always be expensive. But it could now get a little cheaper. Because the 6% commission rate paid to realtors, a standard in home purchase transactions, is no more. In a sweeping move expected to dramatically reduce the cost of buying and selling a home, the National Association of Realtors announced Friday a settlement with groups of homesellers, agreeing to end landmark antitrust lawsuits by paying $418 million in damages and eliminating rules on commissions.

The agreement must still be approved by a court, but if it stays as decided, experts believe this will essentially change the way we buy and sell homes. It would lower costs for buyers and radically disrupt the way real estate agents work and maybe drive many from the business altogether. Experts say the proposed rule change will result in a “decoupling” of commissions that have been traditionally borne by the seller and shared with the buyer’s agent—a system that critics say was anticompetitive and kept fees artificially high.

By some estimates, real estate commissions are expected to fall 25% to 50%. This will open up opportunities for alternative models of selling real estate that already exist but don’t have much market share, including flat-fee and discount brokerages. Shares of real estate firms Zillow and Compass both fell by more than 13% Friday as investors feared that lower commission rates for agents could lead to less business for real estate platforms.

As part of the settlement, the NAR also agreed to no longer require a broker advertising a home for sale on the Multiple Listing Service platform to offer any upfront compensation to a buyer’s agent. In addition, the trade group agreed to require agents or others working with a homebuyer to enter into a written agreement with them. That is meant to ensure homebuyers know going in what their agent will charge them for their services. The rule changes are set to go into effect in mid-July. While setting the stage for homebuyers to negotiate a more competitive price for their agent’s services, Fortune points out that the rule changes will mean that home shoppers will have to factor in how to cover their agent’s compensation.

By the Numbers:
There were 5.95 million homes sold in the U.S. in 2022. Which has risen steadily since 2011, when home sales were around 4.5 million per year.

Putin Claims a Landslide


The Russian leader was always going to claim his fifth term as president. But what’s next?

Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin late on Sunday unsurprisingly claimed victory in what Russia said was an election for its presidency, solidifying his rule throughout the remainder of this decade and into the 2030s. The BBC reports that Western countries lined up to condemn the vote as neither free nor fair.

Axios points out that what millions of people voted in over the past few days—in some cases against their will—wasn't an election in any traditional sense of the word. Putin’s opponents had been previously vetted by the country's Kremlin-controlled elections commission. And any opposition candidates who could have challenged Putin or his brutal invasion of Ukraine were either barred from the contest or have been exiled, imprisoned or have died under suspicious circumstances.

Some Russian citizens poured dye into ballot boxes, lit explosives and attempted arson in sporadic acts of protest during the election, but it didn’t change the outcome. So what’s next? According to CNN, some speculation among Russia-watchers has centered on a few big-picture issues. But predicting Putin’s post-election course of action is a tricky business. “The Russian leader has for the short term sanction-proofed his economy; his ammunition factories are outproducing the U.S. and its European allies and the political landscape has been cleared of all competition.”

Dig Deeper:
Here's how Russia’s grab of Crimea 10 years ago led to war with Ukraine and rising tensions with the West.


Get out of town.

But first, upgrade your vacation style with the latest from MR PORTER’s new vacation shop.

Starbucks Shuts Down NFT Rewards


It took the coffee giant a little too long to realize coffee NFTs aren’t it

Starbucks is giving up on its NFT odyssey. Two years ago, Starbucks announced a web3 NFT project that was supposed to expand its Rewards loyalty program by using the blockchain … somehow. Then the coffee giant delivered the first paid Odyssey NFTs—selling 2,000 in twenty minutes during the same week Facebook and Instagram quit NFTs.

But now, Starbucks is pulling the plug and says it will shut the Odyssey Beta down at the end of the month. According to Engadget, the company informed members that they have little over a week left to complete any remaining activities (called journeys). Those will shut down on March 25. Users won’t lose their Stamps (Starbucks’ NFTs), which are hosted on Nifty Gateway, but they’ll have to sign up for Nifty using their Starbucks Rewards email to access them there, if they haven’t already.

Starbucks was late to the NFT game with Odyssey, which launched in beta in late 2022—well after interest in the digital collectibles peaked. Unlike some other NFT ventures from major brands, though, it seemed to be aiming for more than a quick cash grab. It gamified the rewards system, offering activities and coffee-related games. In a conversation with TechCrunch published just last month, Odyssey community lead Steve Kaczynski emphasized the community element. So much for that.

Starbucks added 3,000 new locations last year, officially making it the second-biggest restaurant chain on Earth.

‘Dune: Part Two’ Continues to Blow Up


The sequel nears $500 million at global box office, surpasses entire run of first film

Less than a month into its theatrical run, Dune: Part Two has already set itself up for massive box office success. Additionally, the film passed numerous milestones this weekend—its third—as it cemented Timothée Chalamet as the rarest of breeds in modern Hollywood, a movie star with the ability to draw crowds to theaters despite not having worked in a superhero spectacle so far.

The science-fiction epic has now grossed $289 million from overseas markets, for a cumulative global haul of $494 million. What this also means is that the sequal has overtaken the first Dune at the worldwide box office in essentially little over two weeks. And the movie will hit the half-billion mark globally as early as this morning, according to Variety. Of course, Collider points out that the first film debuted in mid-pandemic 2021, and more infamously, was released day-and-date on the streaming service formerly known as HBO Max.

Glowing word-of-mouth and interest in premium formats are what experts credit with keeping ticket sales flowing. Over the weekend, the film surpassed $100 million from IMAX screens alone, the seventh-fastest film to reach the milestone. Although it’s early in the year, Dune 2 is now the highest-grossing film of 2024 at the domestic and worldwide box office.

The New York Times looks into why the Dune popcorn bucket, a sandworm-shaped tub, is having a cultural moment.


Upgrade Your Vacation Style


Now’s the time to invest in some fresh warm weather gear


Winter has been long and the weather has been pretty tough. Spring is on the way, but spring break is even closer. If you don't have a seasonal vacation planned yet, then let this be your sign to book a trip somewhere. But before you leave, make sure you grab some fresh gear to upgrade your out-of-town style. MR PORTER's new vacation shop is chockful of perfect and packable styles that are relaxed, refined and ready for all sorts of destinations. From TOM FORD's swimwear to soft and sophisticated tailoring from the likes of Loro Piana and Brunello Cucinelli (along with the latest designer T-shirt, shorts and sandals), they've got everything you need to jumpstart your transition into warm weather style.


Morning Motto

Visualization is key.


You don't get results by focusing n results. You get results by focusing on the habits and behaviors that produce results.




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